As a Catholic who believes that life begins at conception, I can’t help but be concerned about the millions of babies who die from abortion each year. According to data presented by the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute, around 73 million babies are aborted yearly. Even if we reduce the number to around 50 million, that would already be one billion lives in twenty years’ time. One billion lives that have never even been born.
If we truly believe in the value of human life, we’d find it almost unbearable to think about the number of lives that have been lost and are still being lost. Were these lives considered to be less valuable just because they’re still in the womb? Do we need to see the face of each child just to know that each one is still a human being worthy of being protected and loved?
Sometimes, however, even what we may think of as love can be the very reason why some mothers would choose to abort their children. Love that desires only the best kind of life for their children. Love that only hopes for these precious lives to escape from suffering and pain.
An article by CBS News described the decreasing number of children born with Down’s syndrome in some countries due to prenatal screening. Many mothers have chosen to abort their babies for fear that they may suffer from the said condition.
Aside from the possibility of sickness and other health conditions, some mothers also decide to undergo an abortion because of poverty and the fear of not being able to give their children the various material things they would need while growing up.
All these things seem to consider what could be the best for the child.
Abortion and the Concept of Human Life
Before we proceed to the fate of unborn babies, we must first keep in mind that different people have different views about the fetus in the mother’s womb.
Some mothers who decide in favor of abortion have been convinced that the said fetus is nothing more than a clump of cells. From this perspective, these cells have not yet developed into a human being. The decision then to abort it is to merely prevent human life from being fully formed.
On the other hand, there are mothers who may believe that abortion would indeed end the life of their children. But they chose to do it precisely in order to spare their children from a tragic and painful life.
Among such mothers who willingly take upon themselves the burden of this decision, perhaps there are some who may even believe in the child’s eternal soul.
It is no impossibility to believe that some mothers may even find consolation in the thought that their babies would be much happier in heaven than if they had been allowed to live on earth.
What the Catholic Church Believes
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism. (CCC 1261 )
Until the present day, the Catholic Church has not issued a definitive statement as to the state of unborn babies that have not been baptized. The one consolation, however, that we may have is our hope in the mercy of God.
But What If We Can Be Sure These Babies Are In Heaven?
Despite the mystery of the eternal fate of unborn children, I have read many opinions from people who seem to find heaven as an excuse for abortion. “If unborn babies are in heaven and they don’t need to suffer pain on earth, why would abortion be a crime?’
This line of thinking is similar to those justifications for abortion that seem to think about the best interest of the child.
The child (or the potential child) would no longer have to suffer such a difficult life on earth. They would all get straight to the next life where they can be happier.
The Fate of Unborn Children
I would like to think that no mother would ever desire any unnecessary harm for their children. Even those who believe that they are actually ending the lives of their babies in the womb may try to think that they are protecting them from greater harm.
But I would like each one to consider this question, “Would these aborted children truly be happier in the end?”
It is true that they would no longer be born with sickness. They would no longer suffer the struggles of an impoverished life. They may even find the grace to go straight to heaven.
But have we considered the things that they have lost?
The Happier Children
Not experiencing pain is never the same as being happy. While it is certainly a great comfort to be exempt from pain, it is never a comfort to be exempt from life.
No person who has ever lived a full life has ever escaped from pain. But that doesn’t mean one hasn’t lived a meaningful life. That doesn’t mean one has never experienced happiness, too.
Even if we can have the assurance that these aborted babies can go straight to heaven, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have been happier had they lived their lives on earth first.
Would they not be happier had they felt the loving arms of their mothers? Would they not be happier had they heard the voices of their fathers?
Despite an imperfect life, would they not find joy in being taken care of? Would they not find fulfillment in pursuing and fighting for their dreams?
What is happiness but being given the chance to love and to be loved?
Life in heaven is priceless. But the joys of heaven begin with our short life here on earth. In sorrow, in pain and in our many troubles, the capacity of our hearts to contain bliss is ever enlarged. In loving despite all obstacles, the beauty of our souls comes into its full glory, a beauty we’d carry with us for all eternity.
These children, by God’s grace, may indeed find happiness in heaven. But given everything they would have had even while on earth, let us ask ourselves, “Had they been happier had they been allowed to be born?”
You may also want to read: “3 Reasons Why Our Relationships Don’t End in Death”
Jocelyn Soriano writes about relationships and the Catholic faith at Single Catholic Writer. She is the author of the books Defending My Catholic Faith, Questions to God and Of Waves and Butterflies: Poems on Grief.
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